Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Does streaming make kids feel less dumb? 

The primary school streaming policy in Singapore’s education system has often been criticised for pigeon-holing students according to their supposed academic ability. This is said to cause students in the weaker classes to be stigmatised.

The Ministry of Education has often defended streaming, saying that it allows students of different abilities to be taught according to their abilities and thus avoid frustration.

Rob at the BusinessPundit appears to have found evidence that the Ministry may be correct. Citing his sister’s work in education, he says that when his sister split the children into classes based on ability, “the test scores for EVERY GROUP increased. She claims in her paper that what makes kids feel dumb is when they are all in a class together and they see students doing much more advanced work and wonder why they aren’t doing it. She says kids used to ask her all the time why they weren’t doing the same work as the other kids.”

An ironic finding, surely. But it is consistent with the Ministry's long-stated stand on streaming.

A caveat, though. The study cited in BusinessPundit was a relatively small-scale affair. In the absence of an institutionalised streaming system that clearly announces certain classes as being designated for weak students, it was probably able to avoid the stigma that would otherwise be attached to those who go to such classes.

So while the Ministry of Education is correct on the direct positive educational effects of streaming, it should still try to reduce the negative social and psychological effects that the system may have on children.


Post a Comment

<< Home